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Prevention: Tax and pricing

Countries that have taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)

Last updated 21-03-2024

Over 50 countries have implemented taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to date. In some of these countries, the effects of these taxes on consumption and reformulation of SSBs has been extensively studied.

Key Evidence


Data from the UK, Mexico, South Africa and other countries indicate that SSB taxes successfully reduce sugar consumption from SSBs


SSB taxes have led to reformulation of SSB products in the UK and other countries, reducing the amount of sugar in these beverages


At least 54 countries have introduced a tax on SSBs, as listed in the table below

With many countries introducing a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax over the past decade, research is now showing the benefits of these taxes. High quality studies, particularly from Mexico, UK and South Africa have shown that these taxes have reduced consumption of SSBs and led to reformulation of products to reduce sugar levels. Most of the current data looks at impacts from a time period of up to three years after introduction of the tax. Longer term studies will measure the effects of SSB taxes on obesity.

Impact of SSB taxes: international case studies


Mexico introduced a volumetric SSB tax in 2014 – a tax of 1 peso per litre on SSBs. This tax has led to a price rise of about 11% for soft drinks, and a slightly smaller increase for other sweetened beverages.1 This price increase has reduced both purchases and consumption of SSBs in Mexico. Studies of the effects of the Mexican SSB tax on obesity in Mexico are ongoing. Below is a summary of the major results to date.

  1. Reduction in the volume of SSBs purchased after the new tax started. By 2016, there was a 37% reduction in the total volume of SSBs purchased, compared to the year before the tax.2
  2. Reductions in SSB purchases were greatest among poorer households and those that previously purchased high amounts of SSBs.13
  3. It’s predicted that over 10 years, the Mexican SSB tax would prevent 239,900 cases of obesity. Of these, 39% would be cases of obesity prevented in children. This drop in obesity is predicted to avoid 5,840 disability-adjusted life-years.4
  4. The tax was also predicted to be highly cost effective. By saving costs such as health care, the tax would save almost $4 per dollar spent on its implementation.4

United Kingdom

An SSB tax, called the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, was introduced in the United Kingdom in April 2018. The UK tax is a two-tiered levy that taxes producers according to a drink’s sugar concentration, with different rates for different sugar levels. Drinks containing more than 8 g of sugar per 100 mL are taxed at £0.24 per litre and those containing 5 to 8 g per mL of sugar are taxed at £0.18 per litre.5 Manufacturers responded to the UK tax by widespread reformulation of their products to reduce sugar levels. Where sugar levels remained above the taxation threshold, prices were not always raised to reflect the taxed amount. The tax was only passed on to consumers for drinks with more than 8 g sugar/100mL, which underwent an average price increase of £0.075 per litre.6

The success of the UK tax in reducing sugar consumption has been demonstrated by high quality research, with major findings summarised below:

  1. The UK tax led to widespread reformulation to reduce sugar levels in SSBs. The reduction in sugar from this reformulation was the equivalent of removing a total of 45 million kg of sugar from soft drinks each year.78 More information on reformulation is available from Reformulation of food products to reduce sugar consumption.
  2. The proportion of drinks available in supermarkets with high sugar content dropped after the new tax. Between 2015 and 2019, the percentage of drinks in supermarkets with sugar content of more than 5 g per 100 mL fell from 49% to 15%.6
  3. The amount of sugar in SSBs was reduced after the UK tax was introduced. There was a 43.7% reduction in the sugar content in the drinks subject to the tax by four years after the tax was introduced.9
  4. There was a 35.4% reduction in consumed sugar from taxed drinks. This reduction was largest (38.5%) in the households where the main wage earner was in a skilled manual occupation.9
  5. The majority of fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies targeted at children and in children's lunch boxes were not eligible for the UK tax. Most of these drinks did not meet the eligibility requirements for the UK tax, usually because they were made with fruit juice or pureed fruit without other added sugar, despite having over 5 g per 100ml sugar. Researchers recommend adapting the UK tax to include drinks targeted to school children as many remained above the recommended amount of sugar for the age group but this was not done.10

South Africa

In 2018 South Africa introduced a 10% tax, called the Health Promotion Levy, on sugary drinks, excluding fruit juices. This is a tax of 0.021 ZAR per gram of sugar, in drinks with over 4 g of sugar per 100 mL.11 Carbonated drinks increased in price by an average of 1.006 ZAR per L after the introduction of the new tax, but the prices of non-carbonated drinks that were subject to the tax did not increase. The price increase for carbonated drinks occurred for both low and high sugar beverages.12

The success of the South African Health Promotion Levy has been described by a number of studies:

  1. Less carbonated drinks were purchased in urban areas. Purchases of carbonated drinks by households fell by an average of 29% after the tax was introduced. The amount of sugar purchased in these drinks fell by 51%.12 This came about due to both behaviour change and reformulation.1113
  2. People in lower socioeconomic groups purchased considerably less sugar in drinks that were subject to the tax. There was a 57% drop in the grams of sugar purchased in taxed drinks by people in urban lower socioeconomic urban households.1114 In addition to reformulation, the total volume of taxed drinks purchased was reduced, indicating a behaviour change.14

SSB taxes in other countries

Research on the effects of SSB taxes is continuing in numerous other countries, with some highlights presented below:15

Portugal: A two-tiered SSB tax was introduced in Portugal in 2017 of €0.8/L and €0.16/L increases in average prices for drinks with sugar contents of <80 g/L and ≥80 g/L. Close to 100% of the tax was passed through to consumers.16 A 7% reduction in sales of SSBs was reported in the first year, with reformulation leading to an 11% reduction of total energy intake through consumption of SSBs.17

Chile: Until 2013, Chile had a 13% tax on non-alcoholic drinks. In 2014, this tax was raised from 13% to 18%, only for soft drinks with at least 6.25 g of sugar per 100 mL, and the tax was decreased from 13% to 10% for soft drinks with less than this threshold of sugar.18 The prices of high sugar soft drinks increased by an average of 1.9% and decreased by 1.7% for the low sugar soft drinks.18 After one year, there was a 22% reduction in the volume of higher-taxed drinks sold, but no change in the overall purchase of soft drinks. This indicates that some consumers switched their preferences towards drinks with lower sugar content.18

US regional and city-based taxes: SSB taxes have been introduced in specific regions and cities in the United States.15

  • A 1 cent per fluid ounce SSB tax was introduced in Berkeley, California in 2015 that resulted in an average price increase of 0.83 cents per fluid ounce.19 One year after introduction of the tax, there was a 21% decrease in consumption of SSBs.1519 Reductions in SSB consumption were maintained for at least three years and detected in demographically diverse neighbourhoods.20
  • A 1.5 cents per ounce tax on SSBs (including diet soft drinks but excluding fruit juices and milk drinks) was introduced in the city of Philadelphia in 2017. The tax was fully passed on to consumers, leading to a price increase of 21% for the taxed drinks.21 There was an average reduction of 8.5 ounces (251ml) of taxed beverages purchased per shopping trip in Philadelphia after the tax. Adults in Philadelphia reduced their consumption of sugars in from SSBs by an average of 6 g per day but unfortunately the effect was not seen in children.21 There was also reduced availability of SSBs in stores after the tax, as stores decreased their stocks of taxed drinks and increased their stocks of water.22

List of countries with an SSB tax

The 54 countries that have an SSB tax are listed below, with details including the implementation date and type of tax used. Some countries have adopted a tiered tax design, which applies different tax rates depending on sugar content.

The table below uses the following definitions:

  • Type of tax
    • Excise tax – a tax levied on a particular product at point of manufacture. An excise tax can be either:
      • Specific – based on quantity (e.g. volume or sugar content) OR
      • Ad valorem – calculated on a percentage of the wholesale or retail price23
    • Value-added tax – a consumption tax placed on a product whenever value is added at each stage of the supply chain, from production to point of sale.
  • Tax design
    • A specific excise tax can be calculated on either the volume of the drink (volumetric) or its sugar content.
  • Tiers
    • A tiered excise tax applies different rates depending on sugar content – for example, the United Kingdom tax has different rates for drinks containing more than 8 g of sugar per 100 mL, and for drinks containing 5 to 8 g of sugar per 100 mL.

See How should an Australian tax on sugar-sweetened beverages be designed for more details.

Countries When introduced Type of tax Tax design Tiered?
American Samoa 2001 Specific excise for locally produced beverages; plus import tax Volumetric (specific excise)
Bahrain 2017 Ad valorem
Barbados 2015 Ad valorem
Belgium 2016 Specific excise Volumetric
Bermuda 2018 Ad valorem
Brunei 2017 Specific excise Volumetric
Chile 2014 Ad valorem YES
Cook Islands 2014 Specific excise Sugar content
Dominica 2015 Ad valorem
Ecuador 2016 Specific excise and Ad valorem Sugar content (specific excise) YES
Estonia 2018 Specific excise Sugar content YES
Fiji 2016 Specific excise for locally produced beverages; ad valorem for imported Volumetric (specific excise)
Finland 2011 Specific excise Volumetric
France 2017 Specific excise Volumetric YES
French Polynesia 2002 Specific excise for locally produced beverages; plus import tax Sugar content (specific excise) YES
Guam Unknown Specific excise Volumetric
Hungary 2011 Sales tax Volumetric
India 2017 Increased rate of Goods and Services Tax
Republic of Ireland 2018 Specific excise Sugar content YES
Kiribati 2014 Ad valorem
Latvia 2004 Specific excise Volumetric
Malaysia 2019 Specific excise Volumetric
Maldives 2017 Import tariff Volumetric
Republic of the Marshall Islands 2004 Import tax
Mauritius 2016 Specific excise Sugar content
Mexico 2014 Specific excise Volumetric
Morocco 2019 Value-added tax Sugar content YES
Nauru 2007 Import tax Ad valorem
New Caledonia 2017 Excise and import tariff
Nigeria 2022 Specific excise Volumetric
Niue Unknown Import tariff
Northern Mariana Islands 1995 Specific excise Volumetric
Norway 1981 (modified yearly) Specific excise Volumetric
Oman 2019 Ad valorem
Panama 2019 Ad valorem
Peru 2018 Ad valorem YES
Philippines 2018 Specific excise Volumetric
Poland 2021 Specific excise Volumetric and sugar content YES
Portugal 2017 Specific excise Volumetric and sugar content YES
Qatar 2019 Ad valorem
Samoa 1984 Specific excise Volumetric
Saudi Arabia 2017 Ad valorem
Seychelles 2019 Specific excise Volumetric
South Africa 2018 Specific excise Sugar content
Spain 2021 Value-added tax
Sri Lanka 2017 Specific excise Sugar content
St Helena 2014 Specific excise Volumetric
Thailand 2017 Ad valorem and specific excise Sugar content (specific excise) YES
Tonga 2013 Specific excise Sugar content YES
Tuvala 2009 Ad valorem excise and import tariff
United Arab Emirates 2017 Ad valorem
United Kingdom 2018 Specific excise Volumetric YES
Vanuatu 2015 Specific excise and import tariff Volumetric
Wallis and Futuna 2016 Import tariff Ad valorem

Sources for table:
American Samoa 2425 Bahrain 242627 Barbados 262829 Belgium 27 Bermuda 27 Brunei 27 Chile 2729 30 Cook Islands 2425 Dominica 262729 Ecuador 29 Estonia 2431 Fiji 2527 Finland 24 26 France 242632 French Polynesia 252627 Guam 25 Hungary 242627 India 242627 Republic of Ireland 242627 Kiribati 25262733 Latvia 2627 Malaysia 262734 Maldives 2635 Republic of the Marshall Islands 2425 Mauritius 2736 Mexico 24262937 Morocco 2627 Nauru 242532 New Caledonia 25 Nigeria38 Niue 25 Northern Mariana Islands 2533 Norway 262739 Oman 2640 Panama 2641 Peru 262739 Philippines 262739 Poland 2627 Portugal 2627 Qatar 26 Samoa 252627 Saudi Arabia 252631 Seychelles 2627 South Africa 2627 Spain 2627 Sri Lanka 2442 St Helena 2627 Thailand 2627 Tonga 252627 Tuvalu 25 United Arab Emirates 262731 United Kingdom 262739 Vanuatu 252627 Wallis and Futuna 25

In addition to the countries in the table, Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands have import tariffs for SSBs. However, these tariffs are the same rate as for water, so were not included in the table.25

In the USA, regions and cities have implemented taxes on SSBs.2627 In California, these are San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and Albany (all at 1 cent per ounce). Cook County, Illinois, has a 1 cent per ounce tax. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has a 1.5 cents per ounce excise. Seattle, Washington, has a 1.75 cents per ounce distribution tax. Boulder, Colorado, has 2 cents per ounce excise. The Navajo Nation has a 2% junk food tax that includes SSBs.


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